Reshuffle ready if Huhne has to quit
- 27 July 2011
- From the section UK Politics
With news that Essex police have passed their file on Chris Huhne to the Crown Prosecution Service, I am told that Nick Clegg and David Cameron have already agreed on what would happen in a mini-reshuffle if Huhne has to resign as Energy Secretary, in charge of Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The reshuffle, which would only involve Liberal Democrats, has been designed to cause the minimum of disruption.
So who would get Huhne's job? My personal tips would be Ed Davey and Norman Lamb, both of whom were badly treated when jobs were handed out at the formation of the coalition last year.
Ed Davey is now a parliamentary under secretary in the Business Department, a pretty junior job considering that he was once the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman.
Norman Lamb, having been vetoed by Andrew Lansley last May over getting a post at health, was then promised the post of Minister of State at Development, only suddenly to be told that that job had instead gone to the Conservative Alan Duncan. Which was all a bit rough considering that Lamb had been a prominent and effective member of the Lib Dem front bench in opposition.
Eventually Lamb got compensation in the dual jobs of being a whip and Nick Clegg's PPS.
Another possibility might be to promote the Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne, but Browne is among the most right-wing of Lib Dem MPs. Replacing the left-ish Chris Huhne with Browne would upset many of the party faithful, and might not be a wise move just before a party conference. But if Browne was indeed to become Energy Secretary, then Davey would be an obvious replacement for Browne at the Foreign Office.
The other intriguing possibility - replacing Huhne with David Laws - would be surely too controversial given the circumstances.
And if Davey or Browne was promoted, which backbencher would be brought into the government? Probably Tom Brake.